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The effect of habitat fragmentation on cyclic population dynamics: a numerical study.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Bulletin of mathematical biology
Publication Date
Volume
71
Issue
6
Pages
1323–1348
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11538-009-9403-0
PMID: 19352778
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Through four spatially explicit models, we investigate how habitat fragmentation affects cyclic predator-prey population dynamics. We use a Partial Differential Equation (PDE) framework to describe the dispersal of predators and prey in a heterogeneous landscape made of high quality and low quality habitat patches, subject to increasing fragmentation through habitat separation and/or habitat loss. Our results show that habitat fragmentation decreases the amplitude of the predator-prey population cycles while average population density is not as strongly affected in general. Beyond these simple trends however, the four models show differing responses to fragmentation, indicating that when making predictions about population survival and persistence in the face of habitat fragmentation, the choice of model is important. Our results may inform conservation efforts in fragmented habitats for cyclic species such as the snowshoe hare and Canada lynx.

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